The Block Island Times

PBIS come to island school

By Gloria S. Redlich | Oct 29, 2011

At a recent meeting of the Block Island School Committee, Superintendent Robert Hicks introduced a program of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which he thought important to implement. The PBIS program is about ensuring success for students in several areas.

Literature describing the program identifies its goal as “improving academic and behavior outcomes… ensuring all students have access to the most effective and accurately implemented instructional and behavioral practices and interventions possible.”

This past week, Dr. Anthony Antosh visited the local school for two days with just such a plan in mind. Antosh, who is the Director of the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College, was here to train teams of faculty, staff and parents to examine different ways of thinking about establishing positive expectations for students.

He says the ideas underpinning the program go back 50 or 60 years. With research consistently supporting the value of positive reinforcement of behavior, Antosh says his role is to help the PBIS team “design a set of positive expectations and teach kids how to meet those expectations in a positive way and to acknowledge them for meeting those expectations.”

Essentially, the teams work to discover which approaches influence positive behaviors and which discourage negative ones.

He explains that the PBIS team within a school system “identifies the levels of support that kids need. It’s all about kids.” Noting the program has been established in 14,000 schools across the country — in states like Illinois, Florida, Maryland and Oregon — he says 100 of these are in Rhode Island.

Among the described outcomes associated with implementation of the PBIS program have been opportunities to make positive changes in classroom management and in disciplinary issues. These include decreases in absenteeism, tardiness and anti-social behavior, and improved support for emotional and behavioral disorders. All of these issues are viewed as ultimately having an impact on academic results for students.

Social worker Summer Riker is heading up the team for the school, with Special Education Director Mark Hawk and Hicks in supportive roles. Riker says she’s very excited about what she pictures as a school-wide initiative.

Antosh adds that members of the faculty here have been very positive in their responses and he’s enjoyed working with them. Recognizing that each school system is unique and the program needs to be crafted with that in mind, he says the recent workshops are just the beginning of training that may take up to two years.

Recent and upcoming events

Principal John Canole reported that by all accounts, the recent open house at the school went well, with a majority of parents attending. He found it rewarding that “so many moms and dads joined their children in meeting new staff and seeing their classrooms.”

Honor Society advisor Amy Dugan announced that two of the honor students, plus a number of other high school students, helped serve dinner at the annual Roll Call Dinner at the Harbor Church, which this year had a turn-out of over 400 eager diners.

Wednesday, November 2, representatives of the Rhode Island Blood Center will be on site for a “thank you” event. Specific times are still to be determined. Consult health teacher Victoria Carson for the details.

On the same day, a Block Island School Friends meeting is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in the Media Center.

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